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Should biblical laws apply to non-Christians?

In the Bible (old and new testaments) there are various laws, some controversial but clearly written otherwise. Are these laws supposed to be part of a Christian Government? Who will implement them if anyone will?

Some examples are

  1. The eating of fat is prohibited forever ~Leviticus 3:17

  2. Any person who curseth his father or mother must be killed ~Leviticus 20:9

  3. If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives ~Deuteronomy 22:28-29

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    Until Christ return to reign there will never be a "Cristian government". As born-again Christian, I'm looking forward to that day, but until then, I wouldn't want one, for reasons cited here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5465/… I think this question is meaningless since there is no such thing, and therefore it's rhetorical and not allowed under the faq. – David Stratton Jul 28 '12 at 4:35
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    What do you mean by "Christian government?" Calvin ran a theocratic government in Geneva, but that's the only attempt to create a "Christian government" that I know of. For that matter, who would encourage any government to implement Mosaic law? Certainly not any Christian, and Israel is a democracy. Are you familiar with the difference between OT law and NT grace? – Philip Schaff Jul 28 '12 at 5:24
  • "Christian Govt" is like "Islamic Govt" where laws of God which were created for the people, should be implemented on the people. These laws were not there to tell a story or to divert our attention to something meaningless. These were commandments of God. Assume if Jesus became the king, he would build a secular Govt? @MonikaMichael , I do not agree this is a dup of what you pointed out. – Learner Jul 29 '12 at 13:58

Biblical Laws are intended to be used by all governments and all governments do use them.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. (NIV Romans 13:1-3)

However God uses his laws through secular governments not under the authority of his word but of conscience common to all sinners:

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) (NIV Romans 2:14-15)

Of course it is understood that since the church is represented as a minority in an evil world, the role of government is not considered a church role. The church is tasked with proclaiming the gospel, not managing the affairs of the lower world.

An example of how good Christians look at specific laws of Moses with respect to the world I turn to Martin Luther, who clearly had a stance on the subject. I do this because we might be tempted in thinking that religion, even old outdated shadows of the Old Testament should enforced on unbelievers but this in unbiblical. Rather the role of the church is to offer the free grace of Christ and respect a sinners decision to reject that grace if he wills without forcing ourselves upon a sinners's will.

The law of Moses binds only the Jews and not the Gentiles Here the law of Moses has its place. It is no longer binding on us because it was given only to the people of Israel. And Israel accepted this law for itself and its descendants, while the Gentiles were excluded. To be sure, the Gentiles have certain laws in common with the Jews, such as these: there is one God, no one is to do wrong to another, no one is to commit adultery or murder or steal, and others like them. This is written by nature into their hearts; they did not hear it straight from heaven as the Jews did. This is why this entire text does not pertain to the Gentiles. I say this on account of the enthusiasts. For you see and hear how they read Moses, extol him, and bring up the way he ruled the people with commandments. They try to be clever, and think they know something more than is presented in the gospel; so they minimize faith, contrive something new, and boastfully claim that it comes from the Old Testament. They desire to govern people according to the letter of the law of Moses, as if no one had ever read it before. But we will not have this sort of thing.  (Luther's Works Volume 35, P163)


Baptists, in particular, are vehemently opposed to any attempt by a secular government to create religious laws. One of the "Baptist Distinctives" (a term describing those principles that are generally held amongst all Baptists, as defined by the early Baptist confessions) is the "separation of church and state"1.

Baptists, in particular, came of age in the United States during a period of establishment churches, such as the Anglican church in Virginia. Itinerant Baptist preachers like John Leland2 were often imprisoned for "preaching without a license" and as such, early Baptists began to arrive at a consensus that the state should not be in charge of any church law, whether or it was Christian or not.

Not all Christians believe in this separation however. The Orthodox, in particular, tend to blur the lines of state and church (witness the Russian Orthodox church, for example), when there is sufficient mass to do so.

All that can be universally held is that it is no way essential to Christian doctrine that specific works, especially that which is aidaphora, should be legislated in some fashion. Indeed, the Pharisees were the ones who pushed for that, and we all know how well Jesus liked them.

1Please note: I am not taking a position on the distinctive, merely stating that it is an identifying mark of all Baptists. And yes, there is such a thing. It is called, a Baptist distinctive.

2Yes, it probably is ironic that as a Baptist in Virginia, I attended the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, and am now an Anglican. Regardless of the name of my seminary, however, John Leland is in fact a notable Baptist of the Revolutionary Period.

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